Photo: A meeting of cardiac surgeons celebrating 50 year anniversary of the first human heart transplant at Goose Schuur Hospital in Cape Town.
Lenias Hwenda. Cape Town, South Africa. Lenias is passionate about improving access to quality affordable treatments for the forgotten millions.
A week ago, from 2-4 December, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the first heart transplant by Dr. Christiaan Barnard at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. This medical breakthrough was a major feat of courage and innovation that has saved the lives of many cardiac failure patients over five decades.
Rheumatic heart disease is a major cause of cardiac failure affecting millions of the forgotten poor. It is caused by streptococcus throat infection that can be treated with injectable Benzathine Penicillin G. Lack of treatment can lead to heart failure. Unfortunately, the availability of Benzathine Penicillin G is affected by global shortages resulting from insufficient global production capacity. Only four companies in the world manufacture its active ingredient, three of them in China and the 4th in Europe. The few companies producing it are doing so at 20% of the potential production capacity.